Farmers flock for bird watch

Kit Speakman, host farmer and FWAG East’s Essex Chair.

Kit Speakman, host farmer and FWAG Easts Essex Chair. - Credit: Archant

Farmers from across East Anglia descended on a farm near Witham this week to learn how to identify farmland birds in preparation for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count, which runs from today until February 15.

Tim Schofield, FWAG bird expert, with binoculars in hand.

Tim Schofield, FWAG bird expert, with binoculars in hand. - Credit: Archant

The event, which was over-subscribed, was hosted by Little Braxted farmer Kit Speakman, Essex chair of the local Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG East).

“I knew this would be a popular event with farmers. Most of us put in a lot of measures on our farms aimed at reversing bird declines and we want to see for ourselves if and how these efforts are paying off.,” he said.

Farmers heard from FWAG bird expert Tim Schofield, who described the needs of farmland birds and explained how to identify and distinguish between species, before heading out on to the farm to try out their birding skills in the field.

All of the farmers present plan to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) in the coming week by taking half an hour to monitor the birds on their own farms and reporting their findings back to the GWCT.

Farmers at the Witham farmland bird identification session.

Farmers at the Witham farmland bird identification session. - Credit: Archant

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It is hoped the BFBC will give a useful snapshot of how farmland birds are faring, while better-acquainting farmers with the species they are helping. It is also aimed at raising awareness among the general public of the conservation taking place on farms up and down the country. To get involved visit:

If you would like more information about improving the habitat for farmland birds on you farm, contact FWAG East via: or call 01223 841507.

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